The bad luck of poor timing has kept 400 inmates locked up in Kansas far longer than they might have been had they committed their crimes after July 1, 1993. On that day, the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act took effect, says the Wichita Eagle. The act, designed to eliminate racial and geographical disparities in sentencing, generally called for shorter sentences for property crimes and longer ones for violent crimes.
The Kansas Legislature decided to apply the guidelines retroactively to more than 2,000 inmates who were serving time for relatively minor offenses. But more than 4,000 inmates convicted of more serious crimes were left to serve out their original sentences. Many of those inmates had more than one conviction and were serving multiple sentences consecutively. Some who had prior convictions saw their sentences doubled or even tripled under what was known as the Habitual Criminal Act. Today, about 400 of those “old law” inmates remain behind bars.